The Gadget War

The Gadget War

4.6 3
by Betsy Duffey, Janet Wilson

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Kelly Sparks is the undisputed gadget champ at Danville School. Then Albert Einstein Jones, an alumnus of Young Inventor's Camp, joins her class. Kelly could give up the gadget crown gracefully -but she'd much rather let the spitballs and smelly goo fly!  See more details below


Kelly Sparks is the undisputed gadget champ at Danville School. Then Albert Einstein Jones, an alumnus of Young Inventor's Camp, joins her class. Kelly could give up the gadget crown gracefully -but she'd much rather let the spitballs and smelly goo fly!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Kelly Sparks sees the potential in things. A problem solver with forty-three inventions to her credit, Kelly is Danville School's undisputed "gadget wiz." That is until Albert Einstein Jones walks into her third-grade class. Wearing a Young Inventor's Camp T-shirt and trick cap, he spells trouble for Kelly. When Albert declares himself "the real gadget wiz," Kelly declares war. From their arsenals of crazy inventions, they zap each other with a Pants Wetter, a Spitball Cannon, Smell Gel, and the Slime Slinger. The conflict reaches a climax when Kelly deploys her Food Fight Catapult and Principal Hardeman becomes a "casualty" of war. Self-reflection, honesty, and trust pave the path to peace. The zany antics of the dueling inventors will probably tickle a young reader's funny bone. 2000 (orig. 1991), Penguin/Puffin Books, Ages 7 to 10, $13.99 and $3.99. Reviewer: Ellen R. Braaf—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- Kelly is a third grader who solves problems by inventing playful and mischievous gadgets. A new student named Albert Einstein Jones turns out to be a problem as well as a major rival for her title as class ``gadget whiz.'' They begin a full-scale war of inventions--from the ``pants-wetter'' to food-fight catapults, which result in an orange throwing incident in the school cafeteria. Although the preposterous events and gimmicks are exaggerated to elicit humor, readers of short chapter books will enjoy the silliness. A mention of some factual information about famous inventors is integrated into the text. This is a lightweight additional title for libraries that never seem to have enough books for easy-reader graduates. --Blair Christolon, Prince William Library, Manassas, VA

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
540L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

"I used to get in trouble in grade school - for reading. There was something irresistible about books to me, the things that happened in books always seemed more interesting than my real world of freeze tag and jump rope in Morgantown, West Virginia. My favorite books were biographies. Like most writers I know I have always been interested in people. I like to try to figure out how people think and what they are going to do next. I love to hear how people talk and what they care about.

"I was quiet as a child. I have always liked to listen more than I like to talk. I think that's why I am a writer. If I pay enough attention and listen hard enough to a person I begin to see beyond the words to the feelings and the truth.

"When I was young I didn't plan to be a writer. My mother, Betsy Byars, is a writer and I knew first hand what that meant. You sat at a desk for hours and typed and typed and typed. It didn't seem very exciting. I wanted a job that did not take place in a bedroom, a job that required clothes like a business suit or a white lab coat.

"My mother's writing was a part of my childhood. I have early memories of watching my mother at the typewriter, of reading her manuscripts, of sharing the excitement when a book was accepted for publication and of seeing her stories become books. She often asked me to critique a manuscript by placing an arrow in the margin pointing to the spot where I lost interest. I learned to edit at a young age.

"When it was time for me to choose a career I decided on Medical Technology. I loved science and I got to wear that white lab coat. My favorite job title was given to me when my husband, Bill, and I lived in Ankara, Turkey and I worked at a Turkish hospital. Grand Supreme Supervisor and Expert Specialist. It was the pinnacle of my career as a scientist.

"When my children were born I stayed home to raise them and read to them. I began to get ideas for books of my own and when those ideas came, I knew what to do. I sat at a desk for hours and typed and typed and typed and I discovered it was exciting after all.

"Most of my ideas come from my own children and the things that they do. When Charles invented a food fight catapult at Young Inventor's Camp, I wrote The Gadget War. When we were housebreaking our dog, Chester, I wrote A Boy in the Doghouse. When we moved, I wrote Hey, New Kid.

"When I create a character I usually start with their appearance. The physical features come from people I know. All the feelings of the character come from me. All of my characters are a little bit me. I have Cody's imagination, Lucky's optimism, Booker's love of words.

"When I was growing up in West Virginia, my family ate every meal together- breakfast, lunch and dinner. What I remember most about those meals is laughter. There was no problem so big that we couldn't solve it around that table with love and humor. Most of the laughter came from the stories that we told each other. They usually started with phrases like: You won't believe what happened to me. or That's nothing I... Sharing stories helps people feel better about their own problems.

"I write only in the mornings when my kids are in school. In the afternoons I spend time with them car pooling them to sports and church activities. My favorite thing to do in my spare time has not changed since I was a child - reading."

Betsy Duffey is the author of numerous books for young readers, including Hey, New Kid!; The Gadget War; The Math Wiz; and Utterly Yours, Booker Jones (all Viking and Puffin). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
BjcCA More than 1 year ago
Read to my fourth graders during Invention Convention time. It was a big hit and helped them get into the "invention" spirit!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a girl named Kelly. She makes just about everything different from everyone elses. Then this boy comes to her school. They don't get along at all! They are always competing against each other. So they go into the Gadget War and...